Speech contests are seasonal celebrations in every Toastmasters club around the world! If you are a Toastmaster you can choose to compete in the Humorous, Evaluation, Tall Tales, Table Topics and/ or International speech contests. This year, our very own Dorothea Hendricks (our acting past President and long-standing club member for over 25 years), competed in the International Speech contest. The competition begins at the club level, and winners continue competing through the area, division and district levels. The international speech contest entails a 5-7 minute speech.
This year, Dorothea’s expertise, commitment, and hard work paid off… as she soared to a 2ND place at the DISTRICT level!!!!
It can be very difficult to progress past the club level, let alone achieve an honour at the District level. On May 13th, 2017 at 1 pm, Dorothea gave a speech to over 300 people. She was among 8 other competitors… and she won 2nd place!!!
Congratulations Dorothea – you are amazing! We absolutely LOVE having you a part of our club. You are a true mentor, support and a blast to cheer on!!!
When the excitement settled, we decided to ask Dorothea the secret behind her success and the reasons why she feels she was successful. Here are her thoughts below….
1. Why did I decide to enter the contest?
I thought it would be so cool to win the title of Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking. I am a complete basket case and a bundle of nerves just thinking about entering this competition. So diving in …in the hope that I will be competing with people from around the world at the final stage ….is for me the ultimate challenge.
2. How did it help you become a better speaker?
I think it’s impossible not to become a better speaker. Entering a competition requires taking a speech and re-working it as you move up the competitive track. It’s constant practice, re-assessment, changes and alterations of content and delivery. I’ve learned the importance of being clear in my message. Knowing where best to insert key phrases to support that message and how to better connect with the audience. I’ve learned if I put time, effort and commitment into a good speech, it can evolve into a better speech over time.
3. What were some of the challenges?
The biggest challenge for me is ….just doing it. 1. Entering the competition. 2. Getting a speech together. Many people have their speech prepared before they enter … That’s thinking in advance, and it’s highly recommended it. Me? I do it backwards. I enter first and then, go crazy wondering what I will talk about. I need the adrenalin push to get me going. My big challenge is finding a topic that has a universal message. Then, figuring out the way to massage and mold that topic into speech so that it resonates with the audience, as well as, the judges. Another challenge is staying within the required time of 5 to 7 minutes. Any response from the audience or scheduled dramatic pause will cut into the speaker’s precious time. I remember sitting in the audience during one competition years ago (one level below the World Championship). The speaker had everyone at the edge of their seats, but was disqualified. He went 2 seconds over time.
4. What were some of the personal rewards?
The biggest personal reward for me was and is the incredible support from fellow club members. There is nothing that will ever trump the feeling I got when I saw my you and my fellow club members coming out -in person- to support me: the flowers and the card (a keeper for sure!) It was very a very emotional moment for me. While I would have liked to have placed first, I’m thankful I placed second….which is probably as close to first as anyone is going to get.
5. Would you recommend this to other Toastmasters?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
6. What would you do differently?
There are so many things; however here are a few. Be more dramatic. Get a face lift. Make more use of the stage. Have a better hair-do. Get greater audience engagement right at the start. Become a better storyteller and practice, practice, practice…
7. Will you enter again?
Ask me next year at contest time.
This year the International semifinal and the World Championship of Public Speaking® will be here in our backyard, on August 23-26th at Vancouver Convention Centre. To learn more click here: https://www.toastmasters.org/Events/2017-International-Convention
Again, GREAT JOB DOROTHEA, you are an inspiration to us all!!!
…now to you reading this…will you enter a Toastmasters contest next year?
Contribution by Danielle Knight
Seymour Speakers, President 2016/ 2017